There Are Reasons for Using Identity Politics

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch’s message that “Identity Politics Threatens the American Experiment” (op-ed, May 19) comes across as heartfelt and nonpartisan, but it is sure to be dismissed as self-interested or sour grapes by those who have gained power and built political careers on group grievances and identities.

Identity politics works primarily for Democrats. If all demographic subgroups that today lean right or left split their votes 60%/40% toward their favored political party going forward, Democrats would have great difficulty winning national elections. Assuming the GOP gets 60% of the white-male vote, 60% of the married white-female vote and 40% of the rest of the subgroup votes, Republicans would be tough to beat. However, as long as Democrats can capture roughly 75% of the nonwhite vote and better than 50% of the single white-female, millennial and college-educated vote, they are tough to beat. The more effective Democrats are in pigeonholing Republicans as the party of angry white males, the better their prospects for control of Washington. Divisive Identity politics works. It can be rationalized as an overdue reset of an American experiment that was morally tainted.

Unfortunately, too many people in and out of politics have too much riding on the Balkanization of America as a path to social justice and ideological homogenization. It will take a lot more than a Kanye West selfie and a Sen. Hatch appeal to our common American identity to turn the…

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